The Country Music Hall of Fame will induct Ray Charles and The Judds into its ranks on Sunday night, though the death ofa day earlier will certainly upset the normally festive ceremony.
The salon said Saturday night it would go ahead with the ceremony at the request of Judd’s family, but with “heavy hearts and worried minds,” according to CEO Kyle Young.
Mother-daughter act Naomi and Wynonna Judd were among the most popular duos of the 1980s, scoring 14 No. 1 hits during their nearly three-decade career.
Members are usually honored with speeches, performances of their songs, and the unveiling of a plaque that will hang in the Hall of Fame rotunda. However, a planned public red carpet before the ceremony was cancelled.
Charles’s induction will showcase his genre-defying country releases, which showcased the commercial appeal of the genre. The Georgia-born singer and pianist grew up listening to the Grand Ole Opry and in 1962 he released “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music,” which became one of the best-selling country releases of its day.
Charles’ version of “I Can’t Stop Loving You” spent five weeks atop the Billboard 100 and remains one of his most popular songs. He died in 2004.
Much of Sunday’s attention will likely be on Naomi Judd, who died unexpectedly near Nashville on Saturday.
“We lost our beautiful mother to mental illness,” daughters Wynonna and Ashley said in a statement to The Associated Press announcing her death. “We are devastated. We are navigating deep pain and we know that just as we loved her, she was loved by her public.”
In an interview in March, Wynonna Judd told the AP: “Music is the bridge between me and Mom, and it brings us together. Even in the hard times.”
By choosing to go ahead with Sunday’s ceremony, the Nation’s Hall of Fame highlighted the extraordinary life of Naomi Judd.
“Naomi overcame incredible adversity on her way to a significant place in music history. Her triumphant life story dwarfs today’s tragic news,” Young, the CEO, said in a statement.
The Hall of Fame will also honor two recording musicians: Eddie Bayers and Pete Drake.
Bayers, a drummer in Nashville for decades who worked on 300 platinum records, is a member of the Grand Ole Opry band. He regularly played on records by The Judds, Ricky Skaggs, George Strait, Alan Jackson and Kenny Chesney. He is the first drummer to join the institution.
Drake, who died in 1988, was a pedal steel guitarist and member of Nashville’s A-team of skilled session musicians, playing on such hits as Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man” and George Jones’s “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” . . He is the first pedal steel guitarist to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.